Sunday, February 15, 2004


Moms hold a special place in most boy's hearts. I think this is often especially true for gay men and boys, who are often characterized or stereotyped as "Mama boys." And I, for one, am proud to be labelled as such. In the realm of Mom-dom, my mother is probably as close to perfect as Moms can get.

My sentimentality was triggered this week when I recalled the story of a young gay man whose parents had taken him out of a college environment he was thriving in, sent him somewhere to be "repaired" and then forbade him to contact his friends at the college, straight and gay alike, because they "made him" gay or at least encouraged it. I was also recently thinking about the writings of Christopher Priest who has written several essays on the expectation his ex-wife's family put on him, as well as his own family, during holiday periods.

My mom has always been the great peacemaker in the family, between myself and others, as well as with other members of the family. When I have been in serious relationships, my mother has never put expectations on me for being home at any specific time. She has never pressured me to spend more time with my family than with other families involved in my life or how I should be doing that. She has never asked me to stop being gay or told me it was wrong or said any one bad thing about it. She has welcomed my boyfriend into her house as she would anyone else. And she has helped his assimilation into the overall family, working some kind of wonderous magic towards that end.

Peter's mom is a wonderful woman as well. She's a great source of support for him, a delightful and funny human being, full of energy and enthusiasm. She has welcomed me warmly, generously and openly. She even likes Godzilla movies. (My own mom loves old horror movies and it was her love of these films that sparked my own love for classic, and some more modern, horror and suspense movies.)

Some of my fondest childhood memories are sitting in the kitchen of my grandmother's house after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner listening to my mom, grandmother, and aunts talk while the men went into the living room to watch football and the younger kids went off to play. I miss those times, especially now, since as an adult member of the family I could contribute to the conversation. But then I just listened and watched.

All of this said, in effect, to present the following excerpt from the New York Times (February 15, 2004). The article chronicles the search to replace Harvey Firestein as "Edna," the mother from the current Broadway hit "Hairspray" (based on John Water's classic trash classic). Michael McKean who many may remember as "Lenny" from "Laverne and Shirley" or later a cast member of Saturday Night Live, or possibly from several hysterical movie roles (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) was chosen.

I have no idea about McKean's sexuality nor any interest in it, in the article, McKean comments on how playing this role in drag relates to the recent death of his mother. His thoughts touched me quite a bit as I reflected on my own mother and how, possibly, being gay has allowed me a special perspective and closeness to my mother that I might not have otherwise enjoyed.

The real challenge for Mr. McKean will be to give the jokes their full due by finding the womanliness in his maleness. It's a job that seems timely to him. "I keep thinking about that lovely quote from Wilde," he said. " `All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.' So this gig is for my mom. She would have loved it."

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